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COVID-19 Updates: June 12

June 12, 2020
COVID-19 and Stress; Reopening Facilities Safely; Leadership Through the Crisis

Disturbingly, cases of COVID-19 are rising around the world as people emerge gratefully from lifted government lockdowns. Reuters reports that India has reported about 10,000 new cases each day over the past week and became the fourth most-affected country globally. South Korea and Singapore, dense Southeast Asian countries that drew attention for successful initial responses, closed nightclubs and bars again after a new cluster of infections emerged. And in the United States, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon and Nebraska all reported record numbers of new daily cases for June 11.

If the rising infection rates in the United States are the beginning of a “second wave” of COVID-19 infections, the country will be hit by the economic impact of reinstated quarantines or the humanitarian impact of yet more lives lost to the virus. The effect, though, is uneven: Some states are currently showing considerably lower amounts of new cases each day, including New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, several of which were former epicenters of the infectious disease. In any case, the advice from medical officials is persistent: Wear a mask when you go outside, wash your hands regularly, and continue to exercise caution.

COVID-19’s Impact on Mental Health

The presence of the novel coronavirus is dangerous for your health—even if you haven’t got it yet. The threat of the pandemic and the isolation felt by those under quarantine has led to an increase in the number of people experiencing stress and anxiety. “In dealing with COVID-19, it’s important to formalize the fact that we are all experiencing some kind of anxiety, loneliness and isolation,” says Darcy Gruttadaro, Director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health at the American Psychiatric Association.

According to mental health experts, that’s led more people to pay close attention to their stress levels and overall mental health. Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America, says the viral outbreak has driven a 20% increase in the number of people taking his organization’s mental health assessment. Read the full story here.

A Systemic Approach to Bringing Employees Back

“Closing was likely much easier than opening will be,” say Robert May and Michael Tyre. As manufacturers return from lockdown, they need a plan for safely preparing their facilities for reopening. “Any building that has been offline for a significant period of time is like a ship that has been mothballed—it needs recommissioning,” they write. Read the full story here.

Leadership in a Crisis

The COVID-19 outbreak has seen unique challenges and unique methods for manufacturers to help out: At the same time as the country was facing down a pandemic that threatened shop floors and supply chains alike, medical professionals fighting the pandemic had greater need than ever of manufactured products, especially personal protective equipment, which was in short supply.

Despite the challenges involved, Carhartt, Denso, HP, and General Motors, among hundreds of others, all stepped up, revolutionized their supply chains, repurposed their assembly lines, and effectively produced lifesaving equipment. And it couldn’t have been done without standout leadership at each company that pulled it off. For a look at how executives at those companies successfully led their teams into such a thorny situation, read the full story here.

Moderna Says Latest Virus is Ready for Third Phase of Human Testing

In an announcement June 11, Moderna, Inc., announced that it’s latest COVID-19 vaccine candidate was ready to advance to Phase 3 human trials. The trial, which Moderna says is set to begin in July, will involve 30,000 test subjects, some of whom will receive the company’s mRNA-based test vaccine, and the rest of whom will receive a placebo.

Moderna is only one of many pharmaceutical companies currently putting candidate COVID-19 vaccines through clinical development. AstraZeneca is developing its own candidate vaccine in partnership with the University of Oxford, and CanSino Biological Inc. is developing its candidate alongside the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. All three companies are in Phase 2 testing, while other manufacturing companies like Johnson & Johnson and Merck are in earlier clinical or pre-clinical trials. The announcement marks optimism that Moderna or another vaccine manufacturer may be able to deploy an effective COVID-19 vaccine in January—an unprecedented turnaround for vaccine development. Read the full story here.

About the Author

Ryan Secard | Associate Editor


Focus: Workforce and labor issues; machining and foundry management

Associate Editor Ryan Secard covers topics relevant to the manufacturing workforce, including recruitment, safety, labor organizations, and the skills gap. Ryan has written IndustryWeek's Salary Survey annually since 2021 and has coordinated its Talent Advisory Board since September 2023.

Ryan got started at IndustryWeek in August 2019 as an editorial intern and was hired as a news editor in 2020 before his 2023 promotion to associate editor, talent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Wooster.

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